By any criteria, AIDS must be considered the great plague of the 20th century. The epidemic's spread around the globe has been rapid. The disease has already caused more than 11.7 million deaths worldwide since its appearance in the late 1970s. With an estimated 30.6 million current infections, and new infections occurring at the rate of more than 250,000 monthly, the potential magnitude of the HIV/AIDS pandemic is truly profound.

In response, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has developed a comprehensive biomedical and behavioral research program to better understand the basic biology of HIV, develop effective therapies to treat it, and design interventions to prevent transmission. For FY 1999, the U.S. Congress appropriated $1.8 billion to the NIH for the AIDS research program, which will ensure continued progress in these areas.

A dramatic development in AIDS research and care during the past two years has been the introduction of...

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